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Archie Sonic the Hedgehog Issue 171 was the one hundred and seventy-first issue of the main Sonic the Hedgehog comic series.
The countdown to issue #175 continues! As Shadow and Dr. Robotnik's personal war intensifies, could it bring an end to life as we know it? When Shadow steals classified information about himself from Dr. Robotnik, he enlists Sonic, Tails and Knuckles to help him crack the code. But is he really ready to learn who he truly is?! PLUS: "The Enforcers": Without his son's help, Knuckle's father Locke is losing control of Angel Island. Will the help offered by a mysterious new benefactor be accepted by Locke? And if so, will it mean the end of Angel Island?
- "I Am"
Shadow the Hedgehog is holding up Dr. Eggman in the air, demanding the location of Professor Gerald's diary from him, but the doctor refuses. Shadow then grabs Snively by the hair and threatens him. Snively eventually tells him what he wants to know, but Shadow pulls his hair out regardless for wasting his time. He grabs Gerald's diary, encoded onto a disc, from the hidden pocket of a book and heads off to Freedom HQ as it is the only friendly place he can access with the technology needed to read the diary.
At Freedom HQ, Sonic is wondering where Fiona is, with this being the latest of her disappearances. He asks Tails where she is, but Tails suddenly flies out of the room, looking upset. He then speaks to Knuckles (who had just entered the HQ on Extreme Gear) about Tails' abrupt departure and Fiona's disappearance until Tails comes flying back in and tells Sonic that Shadow is heading towards the HQ while under attack from flying Egg Pawns. The Egg Pawns' special electrical weapons manage to damage Gerald's diary while Shadow is trying to run from them, much to his dismay. Sonic and Tails destroy the Egg Pawns and Shadow, angry at the damage done to the diary, yells at them for not arriving sooner. Sonic is annoyed by the lack of gratitude and Shadow relents, and apologizes to the pair, looking ashamed. He tells them about the diary and how it has all the answers he's been searching for, and asks them to help him decode it.
They then head back to Freedom HQ and Tails informs Shadow that the data is so old and damaged that if they try to access it, they could end up corrupting the whole thing, but Shadow refuses to back down. NICOLE then suggests that they could physically interface with the data, and they decide to do it.
Inside the diary data, Sonic, Shadow and NICOLE (in her lynx form), find themselves standing in what appears to be the inside of the Space Colony ARK. They head off in search of Shadow's answers, and the hedgehog soon meets up with a holographic representation of an old friend.
Back at Freedom HQ, the alarms go off, alerting Tails to Snively's arrival in a giant mech. Finding a foriegn signal in the base, Tails realizes with shock and some disgust that Snively had individual tracers planted in his hair. Knuckles goes outside to confront Snively, angrily telling him (while dodging his attacks) that as he once experienced being lost without a past, he won't let anyone interfere with Shadow finding out about his own.
Back in Gerald's diary, Shadow is overjoyed to see Maria Robotnik, who he thought he had lost forever. Explaining that he's been asleep for fifty years and has forgotten his purpose, she leads them to her grandfather and he reveals the truth to his "son." He tells Shadow that, initially, his body was to be the source for a cure to the disease Maria had developed, Neuro-Immuno Deficiency Syndrome. However, his research only carried him so far. Desperate, he sought the aid of Black Doom, a monstrous alien who wanted Shadow to be his greatest weapon. Black Doom helped in the creation of Shadow and gave him his rare skills in Chaos Control. He planned to return in fifty years' time to have Shadow help him invade Mobius. Instead, Gerald planned for Shadow to protect the planet against Black Doom and his Black Arms when they returned (Sonic and NICOLE discuss this, thinking that the Black Arms are overdue in their attack - they were held up by the Xorda). Slightly overwhelmed by these revelations, Shadow wonders what his purpose is - a cure, or a weapon? Gerald tells Shadow that he is to be the planet's greatest protector, and while he apologizes for leaving so much on Shadow's shoulders, he tells his "son" that he is well prepared for it. However, the digital matrix begins to further deteriorate, and NICOLE informs the others that they must quickly leave. Shadow is upset at losing Maria again, but she tells him that she will always be with him if he holds her memory in his heart. They then exit the fragmenting reality.
Upon their return, Tails informs the two hedgehogs that Knuckles is fighting Snively outside. Shadow races outside with Snively's hair and outside where Knuckles is being crushed in the one remaining pincer of the badly dented Egg Lobster. Shadow spindashes through the lobster, freeing Knuckles, and tells Snively to tell Eggman that he is the protector of Mobius and will no longer serve him as he throws Snively's hair in his face.
With Shadow's questions answered, Sonic goes to get his own answers from Fiona as to why she keeps disappearing...
Looking on from afar, Guardian Locke recognizes them but doesn't understand why they rescued the Echidnas. Dr. Finitevus then arrives via Warp Ring and reveals they he told them to do so, and both he and the Destructix had reformed, but Locke does not believe him. Finitevus then brings forth Dimitri to vouch for him. Dimitri says Finitevus saved what was left of his life, but Locke still holds doubts about Finitevus' claim. Finitevus then offers to let the Destuctix, under his command, keep guard over Angel Island and the Master Emerald so Locke can search for the missing Brotherhood of Guardians, which gets Locke's attention. He still hesitates until Finitevus suggests they contact Knuckles instead, and, still angry with his son, Locke refuses and agrees to let Finitevus look after the emerald, saying he will return frequently to check on him. He leaves with the Warp Ring provided by Finitevus.
Upon Locke's departure, Dimitri shows shame at having lied about Finitevus' intentions to convince Locke to leave. Finitevus however believes it necessary to his plans: to use the Master Emerald to bring Dimitri back to his old form of Enerjak.
- Shadow: I will ask you one last time, Doctor. Where is Professor Gerald's diary?
- Eggman: Grandfather's diary is mine, just like you, Shadow! I command you to release me!
- Shadow: Snively. Where is the diary?
- Snively: ANYTHING BUT THE HAIR, I BEG OF YOU...!
- Shadow: The diary.
- Snively: UNCLE ROBOTNIK'S PRIVATE STUDY! I SWEAR!
- Shadow: Very good. (Yanks out hair anyway) This is for wasting my time.
- Knuckles: (when Snively is attacking) "Another attack?"
- Tails: "It's Snively! I'm detecting some kind of data-transfer... We've got a beacon here in the base!" (after seeing Snively's hair on the table) "Snively has his hairs individually tracked?"
- Knuckles: "He's Eggman's nephew.They're all insane!"
- Snively: "I demand my hair back! I have an Egg Lobster, and I know how to use it!"
- Shadow: (after defeating the Egg Lobster) "I am Shadow the Hedgehog. I am the union of ideals dark and benign but ultimately built in the name of love. I am the ultimate lifeform. I am the protector of Mobius. Run home to your master and tell him. This is who I am."
- Shadow finds out his true purpose from Gerald Robotnik inside his diary and stops working for Dr. Eggman.
- Sonic sees NICOLE's holographic form for the first time.
- Dimitri re-emerges for the first time in months alongside Dr. Finitevus.
- Locke goes off to search for the missing Brotherhood members.
- Echidnaopolis village is left to be protected by the Destructix.
- Dr. Finitevus gains access to the Master Emerald, and hints to Dimitri of his future plans.
- Black Doom briefly appears in Gerald Robotnik's flashback in his diary. The Black Arms and Black Doom's appearances were deliberatly limited by SEGA, thus limiting Black Doom to a brief cameo.
- Knuckles is briefly seen with his Extreme Gear, albeit with different color scheme.
- This issue marks Dimitri's first appearance since Sonic the Hedgehog #118. It was stated by Lien-Da in Sonic the Hedgehog #139 that "Dimitri is no longer with us", implying the character had died. Dimitri's whereabouts during his long absence is explained in Sonic the Hedgehog #180 and Sonic the Hedgehog #183.
- This issue is somewhat of a comic book tie-in with the 2005 video game, Shadow the Hedgehog.
- The title of the first story is based on the name of the main theme song from the videogame Shadow the Hedgehog, "I am... (All of me)". It is also based on a line Shadow says in each alternate ending in the game ("This is who I am"). Likewise, Shadow's line at the end of the story, where he exclaims to Snively who he is and what he was made for, is identical to Shadow's revelations in the alternate endings of the game ("I am Shadow the Hedgehog...This is who I am).
- This is the first and so far only time Shadow has been seen crying, as he shed a tear when he had to leave Maria.
This issue has been reprinted in the following places:
- Sonic Saga Series Vol. 2: Order from Chaos
- "I Am" was reprinted in Sonic Super Special Magazine #10 and Sonic: The Games - Modern
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